Rupee plunges to 2-month low on concerns over reforms, dollar demand

The rupee closed at 55.71 against the dollar, a more than two-month low, on persistent dollar buying by oil companies and mounting concerns that reforms may face political hurdles.

In intra-day trade, the rupee, which opened at 55.45, touched a low of 55.87.

The rupee fell more than 6 per cent against the dollar since October.

In addition, the Indian unit dipped to its lowest against the euro at 72.266. Since October, the rupee has declined some 7 per cent against the euro.

“Despite a positive opening on Monday, the rupee lost momentum as oil companies continuously bought dollars,” said N.S. Venkatesh, Chief General Manager and Head of Treasury, IDBI Bank.

Exporters could sell dollars at around 56-level and the rupee may find some support, he added.

Last week, a top Finance Ministry official had expressed optimism that the currency will appreciate without any central bank intervention once the economy is back on an upward curve.

Read more: Business Line

Infrastructure/Transportation

HUDA for perks on smart cards

With the deadline for introducing the touch card technology at the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway toll plaza nearing, the Haryana Urban Development Authority administrator has recommended incentives for commuters using these smart cards as a way to popularize the system.

Under the MoU signed between NHAI and the private concessionaire, Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd on September 18, the latter is required to implement the touch card technology at its own cost within four months from the date of MoU. In a recent meeting of all stakeholders, police commissioner K K Sindhu had asked the concessionaire to introduce Rs 200 denomination smart card and provide higher validity as compared to Rs 500 minimum denomination and 1-year validity.

Talking to TOI, HUDA administrator Praveen Kumar said, “We have asked the concessionaire to look into various ways of popularizing the cards. Delhi Metro gives discount on such cards, we could replicate that system here. Other methods can also be looked into.”

Read more: The Times of India

Delhi govt approves 31 projects

The expenditure finance committee (EFC) of the Delhi government on Wednesday approved 31 projects—27 by the public works department and four irrigation and flood control projects—amounting to Rs 584 crore.

The decision was taken at an EFC meeting chaired by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who also heads the finance department. Briefing the media after the meeting, Dikshit said the government has initiated an ambitious road infrastructure development programme at an estimated cost of over Rs 2,000 crore. The project will be completed in the next two years and comprises the 27 PWD projects.

“The government is more concerned about the roads transferred to it by the corporations which are in bad shape and are not motorable. Hence, the government has decided to take up improvement work on 26 such roads at an estimated cost of Rs 492 crore. We have also ratified widening of the Mehrauli-Mahipalpur Road from Andheria More to Masood Pur at a cost of Rs 58.21 crore,” said Dikshit.

Read more: Deccan Herald

Underpass proposal revived to break Ashram bottleneck

After years of delay, the proposal to construct an underpass at Ashram has been revived. The new proposal aims to decongest the area and provide direct access to traffic moving from Bhogal and surrounding areas towards Faridabad. The Public Works Department (PWD) has invited bids to hire a consultant to carry out a feasibility study for construction of the underpass near Ashram crossing.

Confirming this, PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan said: “We are carrying out feasibility studies for several infrastructure projects, which we want to take up all over Delhi. This includes the plan to construct an underpass at Ashram crossing.’’ This proposal is part of PWD’s corridor improvement of Mathura Road from Ashram Chowk to Hotel Rajdoot and improvement of Ring Road from Ashram flyover to DND flyover.

“This underpass will provide much-needed relief from snarls at the Ashram crossing. It will also provide a direct access to traffic moving from areas such as Nizamuddin and Bhogal towards Faridabad,’’ a PWD official said.

Read more: Indian Express

Ludhiana Metro project fine-tuned for final approval

Chandigarh:  A high-levelled committee under the chairmanship of Sukhbir Badal, Deputy Chief Minister, today fine-tuned the Ludhiana Metro project report, so that it could be submitted to the Union Government for final approval. The project will need funds to the tune of Rs 9,840 crore.

The committee approved the alignment of the metro from Aayali Chowk to BBMB Power Chowk. Out of the 15.70 km of the rail track between the two destinations, 12.152 km would be elevated and 3.617 km would be underground. It would have 11 elevated and 3 underground stations.

Similarly, the alignment for Corridor-2 from Gill village to Rahon Road was also finalised. The corridor is 13.626 km long with 4.886 km of elevated track and 8.740 km of underground track.

Sukhbir said the metro project shouldn’t result in displacement of people. Metro Authority could build underground lines to minimise displacement.

It was decided in the meeting that 11.70 acres of land would be required for the alignment and for the construction of stations in Corridor-1 and 19.05 acres for Corridor-2.

Sixty-five acres of land would be needed for Baddowal depot and 52 acres for Gill village depot. Sukhbir also finalised the relief and resettlement policy for the project.

See article: Tribune India

Real Estate

India still a key realty market for PE funds, says CB Richard Ellis

India continues to be a key real estate market for private equity funds and foreign investors despite the global economic slowdown, a top executive of property advisory firm CB Richard Ellis-Asia Pacific has said.

In India and the Asia Pacific region there is opportunity for developers to evaluate other sources of capital, and this is generating interest among investors.

“As the economic situation in the US, Asia Pacific and also in India becomes clearer, there would be several groups who might be looking to invest in India across real estate segments,” chief executive officer and chairman Rob Blain said, adding that the company’s internal business relationships across the region will help attract investors to different countries, including India.

Blain said he expects more funds to flow into India with an improvement in market sentiment. “All funds are spreading their risks and are going towards emerging markets as well. We hope to facilitate more capital flow into India.”

Read more: The Economic Times

There is more to real estate investing than choosing homes

Commercial Center at Ireo Waterfront, Ludhiana

Dubai For expatriate Indians looking to build a property portfolio in India, there is more to it than buying a second or a third home that can then be placed on the rental market. How about putting up that money – and then some – on an optimum sized office block or retail outlets that could generate consistent yields for the investor?

More NRI investors are thinking along the same lines, and this trend is particularly visible in cities spanning Tier A and Tier B categories. (Mind you, it is less evident in India’s metropolises where plots and commercial properties carry exorbitant price tags and thus accessible only to select investors.)

“As there are no restrictions on NRIs while investing in commercial and residential assets in India, they do have a variety of lucrative and balanced investment options,” said Anshuman Magazine, Chairman and Managing Director at the real estate consultancy CBRE’s South Asia operations based in Delhi.

“Investors have tried to broaden their investment base and hedge against market risks in residential property by investing in other assets such as commercial, mixed-use and land. We expect investors to maintain a balanced view on the market and continue to opt for both residential and commercial (especially leased assets).

Read more: Gulf News

Cabinet to take up National Investment Board proposal in 10 days: Finance Ministry official

The proposal to set up the National Investment Board (NIB) for expediting clearance to large projects will come up for approval before the Cabinet in next 10 days, a top Finance Ministry official said.

“The inter-ministerial consultation on setting up NIB is over. The Cabinet note on NIB will come up for approval before the Cabinet in the next 10 days,” Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Secretary Arvind Mayaram said.

Concerned over delays in implementation of several mega projects, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had recently proposed setting up of NIB under the Prime Minister to clear large projects.

However, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had raised objections to the NIB proposal.

Recently in a interview to PTI, Chidambaram while reacting about the Environment Ministry views, had said, “They have some reservation which I think the officers have explained at a meeting…with the PMO.”

He had further said that “please remember NIB, or whatever name you all it”, is intended to address only the projects where the investment is over Rs 1,000 crore and all other projects are not being brought under its purview.

The minister had added that while the NIB would help remove delays, only in rare cases where inter-ministerial differences are there, it would take decision.

He had further said like Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, NIB is a Cabinet Committee under the Prime Minster.

Due to delay in statutory clearances, several large projects involving investments of up to Rs 1.5 lakh crore are being held up.

See article: The Economic Times

Office space absorption in India to grow 21% in 2013: DTZ report

Total office space absorption in India is expected to grow 21% in 2013 to around 38 million sq ft, driven by indications of overall improvement in global and domestic economies, showed a report from property consultant DTZ. This is a substantial increase as compared to the anticipated take-up in 2012, which is expected to witness a drop of 13% over previous year.

The two primary sectors, information technology/IT-enabled services and Banking Financial Services and Insurance that form 70% of the total office space take-up are expected to drive the rise in absorption levels.

The office space demand from IT/ITES sector in 2013 is likely to increase by 34%, the report said. In 2013, IT/ITES sector in India expected to grow at 13% and generate $110 billion in revenue. The sector is expected to require additional IT office space of 15.96 million sq ft to accommodate additional work force of approximately 0.2 million.

The Office space demand from BFSI sector is likely to increase by 5% in 2013. The sector is expected to require additional IT office space of 10.4 million sq ft to accommodate additional work force of approximately 0.1 million, DTZ said.

According to DTZ, the year 2012 that started on an unenthusiastic note due to the global as well domestic economic turmoil, is now showing initial signs of recovery. It expects the emerging positive indications from global as well as domestic economic front to stimulate real estate sector in India.

Read more: The Economic Times

Healthcare

Boost for healthcare, new AIIMS campus opens today

The residents of Gurgaon can expect better healthcare services as a new campus of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) opens in Haryana on Saturday. The Outreach Out Patient Department (OOPD) of the Delhi-based premier medical institute at Badhsa in Jhajjar district will be inaugurated on Saturday by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

The fully air-conditioned facility situated just 17 km from Gurgaon and 47 km from AIIMS’ Delhi campus will cater to the people of Haryana and other neighbouring states. “Corporate hospitals in Gurgaon may get stiff competition from AIIMS-2 as it would provide tertiary level healthcare at affordable rates,” a state government statement said.

The second AIIMS campus in the national capital region spread in 300 acres which has been constructed in six months with a cost of R1,000 crore can handle at least 1,000 patients daily.

Patients coming to the OOPD will not have to stand in queues. After registration, they would be given tokens and OPD cards. The patients would then get updates about their turn through display boards installed at the waiting lounge.

Read more: Hindustan Times

NRIs

Britain relaxes visa rules for Indian professionals

Britain on Thursday relaxed immigration rules for foreign professionals, entering the country via the ‘Intra-Company Transfer’ (ICT) route.

According to the changes to immigration rules included in a statement in the House of Commons by Home secretary Theresa May, the length of stay for professionals entering the ICT category has been extended from five years to nine years.

The step has been taken in response to Indian and other foreign companies’ concerns.

Home Office figures show the ICT route is mostly used by Indian IT and other companies to transfer employees to their British offices from India.

The new facility will be extended to those employees who are paid 150,000 pounds (about $240,000) or more annually as salary.

It means the companies and manufacturers, who have told the government that they preferred to transfer senior staff to Britain for longer duration, will be able to do so, official sources said.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “The UK is open for business to the brightest and best migrants and today’s changes will ensure we remain an attractive destination for global talent”.

Read more: The Economic Times

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